“Can I come?”
Ah, the dreaded words that every kid who has a younger brother or sister hates to hear. It’s 1983 and I am five years old and am about to go over to play at my friend Amy Gym’s house. My little brother Mike wants to tag along. Life is so not fair.
“No, you can’t come.” I said, aggravated.
“Fine. Then I am going to go ask Mom.” He said turning on his heels towards the kitchen where my mom sat reading.
“No, Stop!” I pleaded, as frustrated tears welled up in my eyes. He was going to ruin everything if he came. “You can’t come!”
“Yeah, right.” He smirked.
“No really! You can’t because—“
Think fast, I told myself, or this is all over, and the little tag along is going to ruin everything.
“Because…um…because…” I stalled.
My brother snickered as he turned towards the kitchen.
“Because—Mr. T is coming over!” I screeched.
Silence filled the room as he turned around. His eyes widened as he took in the fullness of what I was saying. His hero, Mr. T, was coming to our house. Just incase you don’t know who Mr. T is, he was a television hero from the 80’s who would have given Chuck Norris a run for his money any day.
“You’re kidding.” Mike whispered in awe.
“No.” I stepped towards him and solemnly whispered back. “I’m not.”
My eyes narrowed, as I took a deep breath and began to weave a magnificent lie, “Mom and Dad didn’t want me to tell you, because they didn’t want you to get too excited or anything, but Mr. T is coming over,” I looked down at the floor, as I tried not to smile. “Listen, I don’t want you to miss seeing him.” I glanced up. “But you can come with me to Amy’s house if you want to.” I smiled demurely.
“No thanks!” He smiled and ran to his room.
Yes! Another little brother catastrophe successfully averted.
I went to Amy’s house and played to my hearts content. Well actually, I wound up coming home a little early because Amy spun me in circles on her tire swing for over an hour and then gave me some really gross candy from Europe. Since I didn’t want to hurt her feelings by spitting the candy out, I swallowed it whole. About five seconds after it went down, it came back up. I guess European candy and a spinning tire swing don’t mix well.
Amy’s mom drove me home. I walked into my house and my mom was holding my little brother on the couch. He turned his head toward me as I came through the front door. Uh-oh. Red rimmed eyes- not a good sign. He buried his head into Mom as he sniffled a heartrending whimper.
“Why? Why would you do this to him?” she asked.
“What?” I asked nonchalantly. Hey, I figured I was already in trouble, so what’s the use of admitting what I had done wrong until I absolutely had to. (I must add I was completely horrible!)
My mom sighed, “Lying to your brother about Mr. T. coming to the house, That is what.” She shook her head in disappointment, “Your brother cleaned his room. He lined up all his matchbox cars around the room so that Mr. T could see them. He’s been working for hours.” Since my brother’s matchbox car collection ranged in the hundreds, if not thousands, he would have been working for a while. I felt a twinge of guilt creep through my calloused heart. I actually felt a little bad for the little guy, or more aptly put in the words of the great Mr. T, “I pity the fool.”
So that evening, justice was rightfully served. If puking up Europe candy wasn’t enough punishment for one night, I got a good, sound spanking for lying to my brother. In my defense, it was his choice to stay, right? He chose to forgo hours of tag-along-fun with his big sister for a once in a lifetime chance to meet the extraordinary Mr. T. (Who, of course, never showed up). The thing with choices is inevitably you have to choose- one thing for another. So what if you are like my little brother, and choose the wrong thing? What if you make a mistake? These are the fears that plague us. Many times making choices can feel like grasping blindly in darkness. How do you know where to go? What to do? In those “fork in the road” decision times in life, how do we know which way to turn?
Been talking to a lot of high school seniors lately, and wow, do they have it rough. Graduating high school is one of the craziest things you can ever do. One day, you wake up really early, you put on a funny little dress thingie, a weird hat, shake someone’s hand and they give you a piece of paper. You smile, someone takes your picture and as soon as you walk off the stage it’s like a firing squad of questions, “So, what’s next, where are you going to college? What do you want to do with your life?” Yesterday, you were a normal teenager, and then suddenly, in one foul swoop everything changes. Even your parents- who just days earlier wouldn’t let you stay out alone past 10:30 on a weeknight are asking you when you are moving out. You’re still the same person, nothing has really changed, except now the stakes are higher and people are actually asking you real life questions about your future. And for many, the future can be a scary place, full of uncertainties. It’s crazy, but then, growing up always is.
But let’s go back a few years, back before high school, back before choices were a big deal, all the way back to when the biggest choice you had to make was whether you wanted the orange Popsicle or the red one. When you were a kid, you weren’t trying to figure everything out, you had different priorities then, and the main objective was about having fun. Ah, the good old days when you could run for hours without losing your breath and you thought you could be anything. You, President? Of course! (Vote for me and all your wildest dreams will come true.) There is something that resonates in the heart of a child- a child truly believes that they are special. They believe in the core of them that they are different; they are an explorer, an inventor, and a dreamer. Life is an adventure and every day is an opportunity to embrace it. But you’ve grown up now, “matured” so to speak. You’ve taken your head out of the clouds and wised up to the way things are supposed to be.
But wait…is that the way things are supposed to be? Boring, mundane, routine? Should we feebly lay aside our God given talents and passions for a life that we dread? What if you had it right when you were a kid? What if life is supposed to be fun? Who says we should simply settle for status quo? What if instead of living nominally we so boldly pursue our dreams and dare to live them out? Your life was not meant to be boring, in fact God intended for it to be quite the opposite.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
“Everlasting life”, hmm, that doesn’t sound boring- does it? Perhaps we have made this life something that it is not. Boring. Dull. Life-less. Wake up, Read two chapters in the Bible, pray for 30 minutes, clock in, do your time at work, come home, watch T.V., pay taxes, don’t take any risks in life, stay in your little Christian circles and bide your time here on Earth and wait for the glory days in the sweet by and by. But wait a minute; Christ died so that we may have everlasting life. The question is, when does everlasting life begin? In heaven, once you kick the bucket? Or does it start right here, right now, the very moment you ask Jesus into your life?
By not living the everlasting life here on earth that He paid the price for, we scorn the work He completed on the cross. We are so quick to show contempt at those whom we think are not living for God. But what does it mean to “live for God”?
Does it mean pursuing the dreams He’s given you?
Does it mean enjoying this life He has blessed you with?
Does it mean loving those around you and reaching out to those in need?
Does it mean shunning the nominal in your life?
The following is an excerpt of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, (CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios) delivered on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University.
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
For many, time has passed by quickly and the years have sped by like days…it may seem too late to pursue the dreams in your heart. I have good news for you it’s not.
I think about what Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and life to the fullest.” He was talking about my life in that statement. He was talking about you too. In coming to earth He was searching to exchange average living for something phenomenal. He wanted your wildest dreams to come true. In fact, He is the one who gave those dreams to you, (Ps 37:4) not to frustrate you, but to bless you! I’m not sure where it started, but somewhere, someone started projecting this negative image of God. Like He’s out to get us and force us to live a life that we will hate. I’ve been told many a time, “Never say that you DON’T want to do that because then God will MAKE you do it!” It just doesn’t add up. God does not want to use your life as a divine object lesson. There is this pseudo philosophy that when faced with those fork in the road decisions, the spiritual thing to do is choose the road that looks hard or you aren’t excited about. But that doesn’t even make sense! Why would God send His son to give us the best life possible, and place all these dreams inside our hearts, choose this moment in all of history for us to be born, and then punish us by making us live a life that we hate? That does not sound like Gods nature at all, it sounds like the devil. I’m not saying that life is a rosy walk in the park, and I am not saying that doing what God has called you to do is always going to be easy, but I am telling you that the reward of following your dreams far outweighs the sacrifice.
Christ died, not only so we can go to heaven, not only so we could be whole, but also so that we can experience the best life possible here on earth. He valued your life so much that he was willing to die for it. Unfortunately that statement has become so cliché that we don’t even understand it’s full impact.
So what does He want for us in this life? I believe He wants us to embrace our natural talents and God given desires. I believe he wants you to ask yourself, “What do I love? What makes me come alive? What excites me? What makes me so pumped that I can’t sleep at night?” I have heard many young people who are faced with tough decisions about the future pour their heart out about how they are searching for Gods will but don’t seem to have any peace. Well- what about excitement? Joy? Anticipation???
John Eldridge said this: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Friends, it’s time to come alive.